In my previous article, I discussed the concept of positive presence in game and how you can use this to influence your games and achieve victory. Here, I will be going into further detail with the ways to generate presence as a Support over the course of a game.
The early moments set the tone for the entire game. It is important for you establish your presence as soon as possible to engage the desired ‘Snowball Effect’ that leads to victory. Again, this starts from Champion Select, so communicate with your teammates to organize a team with good synergy. Having a positive voice is a powerful instrument that can save you from losing games.
One way to establish early presence is to coordinate an invade of the enemy jungle. This is the LoL equivalent to scouting and the reason for this is simple; you will always get a lot of information for the effort regardless of the outcome.
For solo queue, the potential reward outweighs potential risk. Just by invading you can learn where each champ is going to play (even though meta knowledge can usually provide this as well), what their starting items are, what an approximate jungle path will be, and so on.
It is also possible to gather information on opponent behavior based on their predetermined positioning or reaction to an invade. In addition to this cheap information, you are then presented with other opportunities to gain an advantage.
Deep wards in the jungle effectively continue the invade for another three minutes, extending the lifetime on the information above to give you refreshed and relevant data.
Stealing an opposing buff camp is one of the greatest rewards that can come from an invade. It can severely restrict the capabilities of an opposing jungle, based on the loss of experience gain and gold income alone. Furthermore, the effects of this can often linger throughout the game and often causes internal conflict for the opposing team. Taking the buff now also gives you the timer, which means you can do it again later and continue to demoralize the opposing jungler (raging jungler = negative presence)!
This, however, is usually a best case scenario, but buff-dancing can be an effective way to garner an advantage too. What I mean by this is distracting opposing player(s) with your physical presence while they attempt to clear a camp. As a spectator, you will see this act more often around Dragon and Baron, but it can be done just as effectively at smaller buff camps.
Your presence in the area can result in indecision and doubt that you can capitalize on. Essentially, you have an opening to inflict Free Damage: Damage without much threat of retaliation as your opponents continue to complete the objective. If they decide to disengage, they still take ‘free damage’ in multiple forms — like damage from the monsters (wasted potion), loss of clear assistance (leashing), summoner spells or time.
We have all also experienced the teammate that waits in the brush for the invade, simply to die and claim they were “tabbed out of game” (more negative presence). Sometimes, the less-common Level-1 team-fight even happens.
As you can see, within three minutes, you already have the chance to indirectly win a game, or at least gain the slightest advantage. All this and more simply by creating positive presence for yourself through communication, information gathering, and decision making.
Also, note the correlation with individual positive presence causing negative presence to emerge on the opposing side. Understanding how to utilize this to gain an edge is a strong tool in itself. Sometimes it isn’t about winning the game as much as making your opponents lose it.
A support’s main goal while laning should be to allow your carry to farm freely and safely.
In order to achieve this goal, you will need to perform both enabling and obstructing actions in unison, thereby generating a presence.
Enabling actions are those that will help you achieve your goals, while obstructing actions are those that prevent the opposing team from accomplishing goals they have set while simultaneously reinforcing enabling action. As you will see, the actual actions conducted are often inverses in practice. Ultimately, you want your presence to cause opposing players to fixate on you rather than your carry.
Obstructing actions will tend to generate a larger presence because they directly affect the opposing team, but can easily be nullified without the existence of enabling action. Failure to use these two types of action in tandem can result in dire negative consequences.
Below is a tutorial video on zone control and highlights several of the connections to other actions mentioned:
Now, imagine playing without the fog-of-war and how always knowing where your opponents are would change your decision making. The per-player ward cap now prevents one player from covering the entire map with wards, but you can essentially achieve the same effect with proper warding.
Place wards in high-traffic areas to maximize their effectiveness and in a formation, so you will essentially isolate your lane from the rest of the map. By doing this, you provide the safety necessary from threats outside of your lane.
Follow-up up by de-warding these same locations, as they will typically be used by the opposing team as well. Denying vision from your opponents often (should) restricts their ability to act due to the potential danger created.
With wards in place and denial of enemy vision, roaming presents itself as an opportunity.
Roaming, however, is a high-risk, high-reward situation as a support. You invest a lot of time and sacrifice experience (possibly gold too) for the potential of something greater (kill, tower, etc.). Successful roaming is often the culmination of several of events aligning at one time.
Having good map awareness can assist you in determining when and how to perform actions like roaming, zoning, and warding. As your awareness improves, so will your overall decision making around these actions, consequently affording you a larger presence.
Keeping timers is a supplementary information-gathering skill that can allow you to realize advantages within certain windows of time. From jungle camps to summoner spells, each timer matters at any particular moment — Timers are some of the least-utilized resources by League players.
Laning is a great test of individual skill and knowledge, but in the current meta, isn’t necessarily where a game is won or lost.
Late Game & Team Fighting
Beginning in champion select, recognize your role in the team. Overall, pick to highlight composition-based strengths and muffle weakness. Most supports usually excel at initiating fights and/or peeling for your carries, but identify what is most needed by your team from you.
Continue this mindset over the course of each game and apply it to your skill order, build order, and positioning. When you properly identify and fill these gaps, you will notice the increase of presence you maintain and importance of your role in each game.
As late game arrives, you still have the goal of creating space for your carries to act freely. This way, they can deal the necessary damage to win engagements, take objectives, and continue to grow in strength. Learn how to position with the champion(s) you play to best accomplish this goal.
You should develop a priority list on who to target first or initiate on as a game plays out. Realize that your opponents will also have a priority list, and that you should ideally understand their priority list in terms of who you need to protect. Once more, reflect on your role to set precedence for which action you should be performing(namely, to peel or initiate).
Continue to ward in efficient areas that you are willing and able to contest. For instance, don’t use a ward in blue buff brush if you are trying to contest for Baron, since that ward could be used elsewhere to better help you secure your present objective. At each stage of the game, have a precedence set for objectives too. If you can know ahead of time when deciding between objectives, it makes all the difference in the world (see any base-race scenario ever).
League of Legends is a game based on one’s ability to gather information and quickly make decisions to act, based on information at hand. Supports tend to generate the largest amount of their presence through their decision making, rather than their mechanical skill. For example (arguably), Madlife is a god at landing hooks because of his forethought and knowledge of movement, not his mechanics.
Wards, turrets, friendly champions, and minions create information pockets in the fog-of-war. Your map awareness reflects your ability to gather information from these pockets on-the-fly. Use game knowledge and previous experiences to supplement information gathering of your game in-progress to make better decisions. In theory, before any action is executed, one should process all available information to decide on the best course of action.
Starting with your ability to process efficiently, each act will impact your ability to do the next, and will only develop further as you acquire game knowledge, greater understanding of concepts, and proficiency of execution. Progressing up the ranked ladder is parallel to your progress with mastering each aspect of League of Legends. When you put all together well, you will progress — But part of that journey is being able to pinpoint the hurdles you face so you can actually overcome them.